Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

by Gelongma Karma Migme Chödrön | 2001 | 940,961 words

This page describes “the knowledge of knowing another’s mind (paracittajnana)” as written by Nagarjuna in his Maha-prajnaparamita-sastra (lit. “the treatise on the great virtue of wisdom”) in the 2nd century. This book, written in five volumes, represents an encyclopedia on Buddhism as well as a commentary on the Pancavimsatisahasrika Prajnaparamita.

I. The knowledge of knowing another’s mind (paracittajñāna)

Summary: Difference between the knowledge of another’s mind and the awareness of the movements of mind of all beings.

Question – In regard to the six abhijñās, we have just spoken about the abhijñā of knowing another’s mind (paracittajñāna).[1] Why does the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra repeat it here?

Answer. – The abhijñā of knowing the mind of another (paracittajña) has a restricted range (viṣaya, gocara); it knows only the minds (citta) and mental events (caitasika dharma) of presently existing (pratyutpanna) beings belonging to the desire realm (kāmadhātu) and the form realm (rūpadhātu), but it does not know the minds and mental events of past (atīta) and future (anāgata) beings or beings belonging to the formless realm (ārūpyadhātu).[2]

Among ordinary people (pṛthagjana), the abhijñās that depend on the four higher dhyānas (mauladhyāna)[3] have as their realm (viṣaya) the level on which the abhijñā has been acquired or a lower level (adhobhūmi).[4] They are fully cognizant of the minds and mental events of the beings situated in the four continents (caturdvīpaka).

Among the śrāvakas, the abhijñās that depend on the four higher dhyānas have as their domain the level on which the abhijñā has been acquired or a lower level. They are fully aware of the minds and mental events of beings occupying a thousand universes (lokadhātu).

Among the pratyekabuddhas, the abhijñās that depend on the four higher dhyānas have as their domain the level on which the abhijñā has been acquired or a lower level. They are fully cognizant of the minds and mental events of beings occupying a hundred thousand universes (lokadhātu).

Ascetics of dull faculties (mṛdvindriya) of a higher level cannot cognize the minds and mental events of ascetics of sharp faculties (tīkṣnendriya) of a lower level.

Worldly people (pṛthagjana) cannot cognize the minds and mental events of śrāvakas. Śrāvakas cannot cognize the minds and mental events of pratyekabuddhas. Prateykabuddhas cannot cognize the minds and mental events of the Buddhas.

This is why the Prajñāpāramitāsūtra says that the ‘bodhisattva-mahāsattva who wants to know the movements of the mind of all beings [265c] should practice the perfection of wisdom.’

Footnotes and references:

1.

The third abhijñā of the sūtras, also called cetaḥparyājñāna, in Pāli cetopariyañāṇa.

2.

The awareness of the mind of others works by deduction: it considers the rūpa of beings, their color-shape, and from that deduces that such and such a being having such and such rūpa must have such and such a mind: Èdṛśe rūpa īdṛśaṃ cittaṃ bhavati. It reveals only the minds of beings belonging to the two form realms (kāma- and rūpadhātu) and who are presently existing. The minds of formless beings escapes it, for these beings, by definition, have no rūpa. Neither do they do know the minds of past beings who no longer have rūpa, nor of future beings, who do not yet have it. See Kośa, VIII, p. 102.

3.

The first five abhijñā, of which the awareness of the minds of others, are obtained by an ascetic in dhyāna (cf. Kośa, VII, p. 101) and have as their realm (viṣaya) the level of the dhyāna on which they have been acquired or a lower level (cf. Kośa, VII, p. 104). Therefore the abhijñā of paracittajñāna does not know the mind of another when the latter is of a level higher than that of the abhijñā.

4.

By ‘higher dhyānas’ the Traité means the four basic dhyānas (mauladhyāna) that have been discussed above, p. 1027–1032F; 1233–1238F.